The Canadian government has announced major changes to its immigration policies and targets for 2024 and beyond. These new measures aim to promote economic growth while ensuring the integrity of the immigration system.
Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026
In November 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released its Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026. The plan sets out ambitious new targets:
- 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024
- 500,000 new permanent residents in both 2025 and 2026
These immigration targets represent the highest levels in Canadian history. They build on the previous plan for 2023-2025 which set targets of 431,000 for 2023, 447,000 for 2024, and 451,000 for 2025.The immigration levels plan focuses on boosting economic growth through immigration.
The economic class is expected to account for 58% of all new permanent residents admitted.Regional immigration pilot programs will also expand to help provinces and territories address acute labour market shortages in specific occupations and regions across Canada.
Updates to Express Entry System
The Express Entry system is the main pathway for economic immigration to Canada. Under the new levels plan, Express Entry targets will rise from 81,400 in 2023 to 110,700 in 2024.Additional updates to Express Entry aim to better match applicant skills and experience with labour market needs in Canada:
- More points for Canadian work experience and job offers
- Introduction of sector-specific draws targeting healthcare, trades, technology
- Expansion of tech pilot to attract global tech talent
These changes will help align Express Entry with priority occupations and sectors facing labour shortages.
Enhancements to International Student Program
International students are a key source of young, skilled workers which Canada needs to drive economic growth. In 2024, Canada aims to stabilize the rapid growth in international students after years of aggressive expansion.
Key changes affecting international students include:
- Intake cap of approximately 360,000 new study permits in 2024
- Tighter quality controls and enrollment requirements
- New post-graduation work permit program eligibility criteria
These measures aim to improve protections for international students while providing pathways to permanent residence for those with strong ties to Canada.
Increasing Francophone Immigration Outside Quebec
In support of the Official Languages Act, Canada has set new rising targets for French-speaking immigration outside Quebec:
- 6% of total admissions in 2024
- 7% of total admissions in 2025
- 8% of total admissions in 2026
This promotes linguistic duality and responds to the demand for French language services across Canada.
Settlement and Integration Measures
With immigration rising to unprecedented highs, Canada is investing $118 million over five years to support settlement programs and strengthen integration services.Key initiatives include:
- Enhanced language training access
- Expanded employment supports
- Housing and healthcare assistance
- Anti-racism and cultural awareness programs
These measures aim to facilitate integration and create welcoming communities that allow newcomers to contribute to their full potential.
Temporary Pause on Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship
Due to processing backlogs, Canada will temporarily pause new applications under the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) in 2024.
This allows the IRCC to process existing files before re-opening PGP sponsorship.When normal intake resumes, the PGP target is set to increase from 23,000 in 2023 up to 32,000 new permanent residents in 2026.
Currently, biometrics are only collected from visa applicants in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas. This will expand in phases to include visa applicants in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa by 2024.Biometrics collection supports identity management and helps prevent fraud.
Expanding the biometric requirement increases the security and integrity of Canada’s immigration system.
Increasing Work Permit Processing Capacity
To support Canada’s post-pandemic growth, IRCC aims to significantly increase work permit processing capacity in 2024. This will help expedite labour market access for temporary foreign workers and international student graduates.Initiatives like digital processing and automated decision-making will improve efficiency. The IRCC will also hire 500 new processing staff focused on temporary residence applications.
Long-Term Growth Approach
The Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026 represents the beginning phase of bold 10-year immigration growth strategy. By 2025, Canada aims to welcome over half a million immigrants per year, with levels stabilizing at this record high.
This long-term approach allows Canada to benefit from the economic and social contributions of immigrants. It also signals that Canada plans to remain an attractive destination for global talent over the next decade.The new plan has sparked debates around rising housing costs, strains on healthcare, and other challenges posed by high immigration.
However, the government maintains that the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term growing pains as Canada continues its expansion through immigration.With ambitious targets and transformative policy changes, Canada’s new immigration plan marks an exciting new chapter in 2024. As the IRCC rolls out updates to selection systems, settlement services, biometrics and other key areas, Canada is positioning itself for continued prosperity through large-scale immigration.
For those looking to come to Canada as skilled workers, international students, or under family sponsorship programs, the coming years present expanding opportunities. But increased competition and more stringent requirements also lie ahead. As Canada ushers in this new immigration landscape for 2024 and beyond, the onus lies on newcomers to prepare strong applications aligned with Canada’s shifting priorities.
Prospective immigrants should stay updated on the latest immigration news and policy changes to best position themselves for success amid Canada’s plan for record immigration intake.